Tips for Future Teachers: How to Teach Future Perfect

In: How to

In English grammar, a tense represents a specific category that refers to the time period or a moment in the present, past or future. Tenses in English language are expressed with the help of certain verb forms. As every English learner knows, tenses include past, present and future. There are languages that have no more than two tenses, for instance, past and non-past. Besides, some languages have no tenses at all. These languages include Chinese and some others. Additionally, some of the world languages make more distinctions between tenses, for instance, there might be recent past or remote future tenses. It is a fact that in English language as well as many other languages of the world, tenses refer to the moment of speaking. Nevertheless, there might be contexts in which the meaning of tenses would be relative to some specific point in the future or past, which is reflected in the discourse (the time period that is spoken about). That is why such tense is called relative, but not absolute.

All this makes it clear that different world languages bristle with different forms and variations of tenses, which makes it hard for students to cope with this aspect of a language. Therefore, teachers of foreign languages should be able to deliver information to the students in an efficient manner in order to clarify the differences between different tenses and the peculiarities of their use. Let us further discuss how to teach one of the most complicated tenses in English language – the Future Perfect. It is a fact that most students find it hard to understand when and where the Future Perfect tense should be used. If you speak English as a second language, it might be quite difficult for you to understand the specifics of this tense, especially if there is no such a tense in your native language. The following recommendations might be of some help to everyone who is going to teach English and needs to know when this or that tense should be used. The following lesson plan will discuss the aspects of Future Perfect usage. It is especially designed for all English language learners and is equipped with various examples for students to understand the difference between tenses in general and the peculiarities of Future Perfect in particular.

The first thing you need to do as a teacher is to introduce Present Perfect tense, because without it students will not be able to understand when to use future tense. What you should do is to ask students what they will do in the following ten or twenty years. You should ask them to complete the table as presented below.

Events in the remote future:

·         I will graduate from the university and get a degree.

·         I will find a well-paid job.

·         I will buy a good car.

·         I will have kids, etc.

After you have finished with the table, you should then draw a timeline, where you will underline some moment in the future when the established goals will be realized. This will help students to understand the difference between present, past and future tenses. What you have to do next is to write an example of the Future Perfect tense on the blackboard, like the following:

·         By the time I am 30, I will have got married.

You need to ask students to take notice regarding the formation of Future Perfect tense that is:


After you discuss the formation of the tense with the students, you should ask them whether the action they describe will be done at a well-defined time in the future or whether they will finish doing it by a specific time in the future. This makes all the difference between different tenses. Therefore, you should clearly understand how to distinguish these two moments in the future. In order to understand the difference, you need to contrast different future tenses, for instance, Future Simple and Future Perfect. This is reflected in the following examples:

·         I will get married this year (Future Simple)

·         By the end of this year I will have got married (Future Perfect)

Students should clearly see the difference, so you need to ask them to give some examples of the Future Perfect and Future Simple tenses. After that, you should ask students to give a few examples of the Future Perfect in particular. For instance:

                By the time I am 30…

·         I will have found a well-paid job

·         I will have graduated from university

·         I will have had kids

·         I will have bought a good car.

Your students should clearly understand that Future Perfect tense is generally used to describe some event that will have ended by a specific time in the future. The next step in the teaching process would be to introduce the interrogative and negative forms of this tense. For instance:

·         Will you have got married by the time you are 30? (Interrogative)

·         I will not have got married by the time I am 30 (Negative).

For your students to understand the material better, it is recommended that you ask them to complete a table, which would include interrogative, negative and affirmative forms of Future Perfect. This will ensure that your students clearly understand the difference between these forms and know how to use them in practice.

As for the practice of the Future Perfect tense, it is recommended that you involve students in pair work. For instance, you can ask your students to “drill” the tense in pairs, which means that one student would give the first part of the pair, while the other student will follow up with the next part, as in the following example.

·         By the time I graduate from the university

·         I will have bought a car.

Finally, you can ask students what will have happened by the specific time in the future. For example, you may ask them what will have happened by the year 2100. Students may answer that by the year 2100 people will have moved to another planet. Such exercise will help student to memorize the material even better. Don’t forget that practice makes perfect, so you should give students as many exercises as possible. This is a key to your success as a teacher!

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